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Eternal Darkness 2 in doubt as Silicon Knights is 'reduced to five staff'

Once prosperous Canadian studio 'now has skeleton crew'; former staff speak out

Ontario studio Silicon Knights is alleged to have less than a handful of remaining employees following a drawn-out and brutal redundancy operation.

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The company, which at the outset of the current console generation had some 120 staff, has shrunk in workforce dramatically following cancelled publishing deals, failed lawsuits and bust deals with state officials.

Layoffs and resignations had become so frequent that the Denis Dyack-headed company now has just five staff, according to a Kotaku report.

Several alleged insiders, no longer employed by the company, have painted a striking and unflattering picture of working at Silicon Knights. They also claim that the studio was developing a demo for Eternal Darkness 2, intended to be shipped to various publishers, which appears to have lost momentum.

"The farthest they got with it when I left SK was, literally, one two-level church interior," one alleged former employee claims.

"It was really bad, as I recall. It took the side-team a long time to even get that far. Bad tech, combined with a team composed of people who had not shipped a title since Metal Gear really hurt that demo. Other than that, I can't explain why things went so poorly for them [except that] a lot of key people responsible for the original Eternal Darkness are long gone."

Another alleged insider claims that the project was not sold to a publisher. Silicon Knights has declined to comment.

The broader story of Kotaku's exposť is how the studio built one of the most critically and commercially unpopular games in the history of the X-Men franchise.

X-Men: Destiny, released in 2011, has been given a below-average Metascore of 47 and is believed to have sold in underwhelming numbers.

Throughout the article Silicon Knights is branded as a "disorganised, unfocused company that squandered ample time and resources before being forced to release a game it was far from proud of".

It tells of how developers who left the studio during the development of X-Men: Destiny were not initially allowed to appear on the game's credits. Meanwhile, when Activision provided a deadline for the project, the studio's management were alleged to have instituted a "mandatory six-day-a-week, 10-hour-a-day minimum crunch".

Another source added: "I am certain that if you contacted former and current Silicon Knights employees, you would receive evidence of an appalling antipathy from management towards the employees, publishers, and the quality of their games".

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